Podcast Interview with Librarian

I have likely mentioned before that I teach an online course each year – EOSC 311 – The Earth and its Resources. The course is designed for students who are not majoring in science. I focus on geological processes that relate to the Vancouver Region. Since Vancouver is essentially the most amazing geological laboratory in the wold (a little bias showing) we can and do cover a wide range of topics. Two of the core objectives of the course are:

  1. To understand the processes that shaped the origin and distribution of the earth materials in the Vancouver region (southwestern BC).
  2. To be able to apply those recognition skills and understanding of earth process to other regions.

One of the ways they apply the concepts to other regions is to ask them to research an area outside of the Vancouver region. A challenge I face every year is helping students with “getting started” on these term papers. Where does one find reliable science (particularly geoscience) sources?

This year I teamed up with Sally Taylor, one of our Science Librarians (in the Woodward Biomedical Library) and Brian Lamb to do a podcast interview. I can’t thank the two of them enough for their help with this — it turned out really well!

The process was amazingly simple! I forwarded the outline of the paper to Sally, and she put together an outline in the form of questions; I modified some of them and added one or two questions from my students. My particular concern was on distance students – students that we cannot assume will be able to visit the physical library. We sat down for about a half an hour and did the interview in one take. Brian taped and edited the interview. In addition, Brian put together a wiki where more information could be found. I was really surprised at the easiness of it all!

(Wait, should I be saying things like that?)

If you are interested in the final product, the links are below. People are welcome to link to them if you find them helpful.

The podcast is linked here.

The wiki is linked here..

Brian has said this before… and I agree… Librarians are amazing… If you are thinking of how you might create an engaging resource for your students.. team up with librarians and your local learning technology specialists.

Thanks again, Sally and Brian!

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Online Conference: Assessment in the Digital Age

I received this via Jeremy William’s weblog notification

I’m not sure who I might tell of this interesting conference that is coming up… so that type of event seem to be a good candidate for a targeted e-mail (done) and a weblog posting! The whole question of assessing new types of learning “outputs” is a deep one, I think. A group of us were chatting briefly about that the other day when we were discussing Google Earth.

Goes back to the basics of what are your (learning) objectives, of course, but navigating those waters with a technology piece thrown in is certainly a challenge when both the activity/assignment and the technology are new… Wonder if anyone in the conference is going to address aspects of that challenge?

Need to continue discussing that, I think… on to the conference…

International Online Conference sponsored by the REAP Project: Assessment design for learner responsibility – 29th to the 31st May 2007

This online conference is being put on by REAP (Re-engineering Assessment Practices in Scottish Education), a Project funded by the Scottish Funding Council. According to their website, the conference has three themes to be addressed through keynotes, case studies and structured discussions:

1. Assessment and the first year experience
2. Great designs for assessment
3. Institutional strategies (designs) for assessment

I look at the dates and shudder a bit, because there are two or three other events I know of going on at exactly that time. Late May and June are PACKED this year it seems! However, I was just glad to learn of this project! The resources section of the website is interesting. There are a variety of reports and papers. They point to related projects, such as:

Posted in Events, Conferences, etc. | 2 Comments

BC 2007 Innovation Awards in Educational Technology

Thought I would pass this along… a good opportunity to have good work recognized!


The 2007 Innovation Awards in Educational Technology honour and recognize BC public post-secondary individuals who test, implement and use educational technologies to enhance teaching, learning and/or who provide greater service and support to students, faculty, staff or administrators.

Deadline: March 16, 2007

For information and nomination criteria:

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Old Dirt

Have to bookmark this one for later…

Old Dirt- New Thoughts“.

This particular post talks about how this archeology prof from Minnesota is using, and more importantly, has his students use Google Earth.

Inspiration abounds… gotta have the time to get to these things…

Posted in Google Earth | 3 Comments

Digital Content Links

A group of us have started discussing possibilities related to campus wide digital content collections (institutional repositories and less formal collections) recently.  This is not a new area for UBC — there have been several initiatives along these lines and there are a wide range of content collections across the campus. 

I noticed cwbailey’s “Flashback (Week of 10/30/06) blog posting had a few links from the Library and Information Technology Association site and a few other locations which look interesting from the “digital content” point of view.  The entire list is worth a look; these are three that caught my eye immediately….

  1. Not So Different After All — Creating Access to Diverse Objects in Digital Repositories — describes a session and points to the PPT presentation of Gretchen Gueguen, Digital Collections Librarian, and Jennifer O’Brien Roper, Metadata Librarian both of the , University of Maryland Libraries.  I like how they describe the types of digital collections (thematic collections, object collection, packaged collections and after-the-fact collections – described fully in the post with examples)   It was also interesting to read about an actual  Fedora installation as well. We’re all kind of wondering about Fedora (dessert topping or floor wax?)… Note to self: look up more about Fedora…
  2. Low threshold strategies for libraries to support ‘Other’ Types of Digital publishing: We’re puzzling over these concepts as well.. different types of publishing, collections, etc. The article has a good update on UThink weblog (Minnesota) project, an initiative that Michelle Chua was following at one point….
  3. Using Digital Images in Teaching and Learning: Perspectives from Liberal Arts Institutions by David Green

    Preferred citation: David Green, Using Digital Images in Teaching and Learning: Perspectives from Liberal Arts Institutions. Academic Commons (October 2006). <http://www.academiccommons.org/imagereport>

    This report, sponsored by NITLE (I should have known that somehow — Mr Alexander is everywhere…), is described on the web site as below:

The study focuses on the pedagogical implications of the widespread use of the digital format. However, while changes in the teaching-learning dynamic and the teacher-student relationship were at the core of the study, related issues concerning supply, support and infrastructure rapidly became part of its fabric. These topics include the quality of image resources, image functionality, management, deployment and the skills required for optimum use (digital and image “literacies”).

If you are looking to get up to speed on this area — this is certainly a place to start.  Appendix 2 is flat out stunning in terms of a resource list!

Gads — lots to look at!

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Integrated Support Systems

This article has been sitting in my “unpublished entries” of my weblog for a while (since march 2004? yikes!) — I have a habit of storing and forgetting to go back. Not good — another end of year resolution to stop doing…

The article looks at units/systems across the campus that should be working together to best support students… something that lots of institutions are working on – particularly large decentralized institutions — it’s good to find the occasional summary article…

Extending Virtual Access: Promoting Engagement and Retention through Integrated Support Systems

I like the table that they have put together in this article (Academic Support, Business Systems Support, Technology Support, Student Support, Instructional Support)… might be a nice exercise to see how this plays out for a campus… articulate the model..

The Center for Transforming Student Services, linked through WCET, is another good link for this type of information.

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References beyond Google

My what an odd path we sometimes travel. While looking for information related to Refworks, US-based servers and Canadian issues with US based servers (another topic that someday I should post some notes on…) and related topics…

I ran across the Distant Librarian weblog — which I need to spend more time on…

…that referenced an article posted on the Online Education Database called Research Beyond Google: 119 Authoritative, Invisible, and Comprehensive Resources

According to the Distant Librarian, this is …

“…an annotated list of deep web places one could check in various disciplines when Google doesn’t provide the answer. Looks like a pretty good list – might be worth a link from your “resources for students” page.”

Hmmm… I concur! What an excellent list. Though I kind of feel silly, having never heard of the terms Invisible Web or Deep Web before…

I have to learn more of these terms!

I need to remember this when I kick back in to my course revisions (Yikes! Teaching in Term 2 is right around the corner….!!!!)

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Some links for Later

I have to provide a high level overview of some of the UBC initiatives at a meeting today — and so I thought I would just post the URLs here!

LEAP – An innovative collaboration between students, faculty and administration developed to strategically coordinate the use of resources to better meet the learning and research needs of UBC students.

e-Learning Web Site – UBC’s elearning Web SIte — gateway to information about a variety of Projects at UBC

Carl Weiman Science Education Initiative

Open Source Student Information System — need to find a link for this!! Concept Paper is online at: http://student.osnext.org/FinalReportReleased

e-Strategy Article: Finding the Right Road…

Faculty of Arts: Ancient Spaces
, including their weblog

Faculty of Applied Science: Team Based Learning

Faculty of Science: Clickers | e-Learning Site

Faculty of Arts, School of Journalism: The Thunderbird (Podcasting)

XPod Radio – Theatre at UBC

e-Portfolios, Inlcuding Faculty of Land & Food Systems.

Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences: Integrated Lab Network

Faculty of Medicine: The Distributed Medical Program

Update: Duncan provided me with an additional link for Land and food Systems podcasting initiatives:


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First TLT Talk: Clickers in the Classroom: An Interactive Panel

Just a plug (and a reminder for me) for our first Teaching and Learning with Technology Series Talk of the 2006-07 year, set for later this month (Sept 26):

Title: Clickers in the Classroom: An Interactive Panel

This September UBC is rolling out a new version of a teaching tool to the wider campus. Student Response Systems, commonly referred to as “clickers”, are small hand-held devices similar to television remote controls; they are purchased by students and used to answer questions during lectures. The instructor projects a question on the overhead screen and students use their clickers to answer the question. The technology allows the instructor to immediately show the range of students¹ answers in a bar graph.

A number of studies have indicated that this method is paticularly useful for gauging students’ understanding of concepts. This kind of tool enables instructors to demonstrably increase student engagement and improve the student experience, especially in large classes. Please join our panel of instructors for an interactive presentation on the pedagogical impacts of using clickers as a teaching and learning tool.

– Javed Iqbal, Director, Cooperative Education Science Co-op Programs
– Sara Harris, Instructor, Earth and Ocean Sciences
– Geoffrey Herring, Professor, Chemistry
– Marina Milner-Bolotin, Instructor, Skylight and Physics and Astronomy

When: Tuesday, September 26, 1:00-3:30pm

Where: Telestudios, 2329 West Mall (University Services Building), Rm #0110, Lower Level

Register: http://tag.ubc.ca/programs/series-detail.php?series_id=167

Posted in Classroom-Based Techniques | 1 Comment

Couple of good resources for teaching large classes

My colleague Marina Milner-Bolotin from the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Faculty of Science’s Skylight (Science Centre for Learning and Teeaching) pointed me in the direction of a few exciting projects that I think have wide applicability.  Both have to do with effective teaching techniques for large classes.

Local Resource:  eTLC

Skylight, the learning and teaching research arm of UBC’s Faculty of Science, is sponsoring a project that focuses on the particular challenges of teaching large classes.

eTLC provides, resources (research summaries, practical strategies, multimedia, etc.) and a set of community tools for faculty who teach large classes.  Grounded in Chickering & Gamson’s 7 principles, the site focuses on three areas of good practice.  In their words, these are:

  1. Resources to enhance interaction and cooperation among students
  2. Resources to enhance active learning in large classes
  3. Resources to promote feedback between students and instructors

All and all, and excellent starting point for those new to teaching, particularly new to teaching large courses!


Clicker Resource from U of Toronto:

Clickers (aka, personal or student or audience response systems) have been used for several years at UBC, particularly in introductory science courses.  With the advent of the more portable and functional (feature-rich) RF clicker systems, this effort is widening further this fall. 

Information on clickers for UBC people can be found at http://www.elearning.ubc.ca/clickers). 

Like any tool, the value is not in the technology, but how the using the technology can further learning and teaching goals.  I’m not posting anything extraordinary by stating that one has to ask good questions to take full advantage of the system.  Indeed, the timing, sequence, etc. are all important…

Marina’s pointer to an effort led by David Harrison of the University of Toronto is particularly timely for me, as I am coming up to speed further on this in-class technology:

The Canadian In-Class Question Database (CINQ-DB)


From their Web site:


A rapidly increasing number of classes, especially large classes, are using In-Class Questions. Finding suitable questions up to now has involved a few books, web sites, and informal contacts among educators. The intention of the Canadian In-Class Question Database (CINQ-DB) is to provide a one-stop shopping repository of questions. Although we call the repository Canadian questions are from teachers from a number of different countries.

Although this web site is hosted by the Department of Physics at the University of Toronto, it includes questions from a variety of fields at a variety of levels.

The nice thing is that the database is not only compiling questions, but is looking to have information on how the questions are used (see http://cinqdb.physics.utoronto.ca/information/submitting/).


Thanks for the pointers, Marina!

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